Amanda Sturgeon.

When someone gets more 540 comments on their note in LinkedIn that they’re moving jobs, you know there’s a bigger story there.

That was that case this week when Amanda Sturgeon said she was moving on from Mott MacDonald where she was regenerative design lead for Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand to Built By Nature, where she will be chief executive officer.

It’s just what happens when you’ve been part of a global organisation,  the typically low-key, high-impact Sturgeon told The Fifth Estate, when we got in touch on Tuesday, referring to her earlier role as CEO of the Living Future Institute, where she held the reins for nearly 10 years.

Clearly, the new gig was an offer too good to refuse. A chance to build again an outfit that’s destined and keen to have global transformative impact.

Like the LFI so many years ago, there won’t be a lot of people at present who know the organisation. Sturgeon describes Built By Nature as an Amsterdam and Zurich based charity  primarily funded by the Laudes philanthropic foundation, based in Switzerland and established by the Brenninkmeijer family enterprise.

Among the ambitions of the foundation is to spread the word on the low embodied carbon of mass timber and other bio based timber products. 

She told The Fifth Estate on Tuesday that Built by Nature had been “spun off as a separate philanthropic fund around mass timber and bio-based materials in Europe and how to create a network of organisations to accelerate the adoption of mass timber in construction but the overall vision is about creating regenerative buildings and looking beyond buildings.” 

The fund will also look at other bio-based materials such as bamboo (which is already used extensively in parts of Asia and the Pacific region), rammed earth, straw bale and laboratory grown materials.

Initially there will be about six employees with a plan to grow to around 10-15, “the idea being that we will be funding other people in the space and amplifying that work”.

Sturgeon has already left Mott MacDonald and will work remotely until moving to Amsterdam in about late October. 

“I was happy to stay in Australia but Amsterdam is a great place for innovative thinking around things like doughnut economies and being able to have a lot of global impact through progressive thinking. And we’re really running out of time to address these issues.”

A doughnut economy is defined in Wikipedia as a “visual framework for sustainable development – shaped like a doughnut or lifebelt – combining the concept of planetary boundaries with the complementary concept of social boundaries.”

“The name derives from the shape of the diagram, i.e. a disc with a hole in the middle. The centre hole of the model depicts the proportion of people that lack access to life’s essentials (healthcare, education, equity and so on) while the crust represents the ecological ceilings (planetary boundaries) that life depends on and must not be overshot.” 

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